Tip of the Week

The Forum for Endurance Athletes

Tip of the Week

Postby natellerandi » Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:04 pm

Knowing when to say when.

When we first start working out, or when we try a new exercise or sport for the first time, we expect to be a bit (or a lot) sore the next day. Which makes sense because we are using our bodies in ways to which we're not accustomed. Eventually, the post-exercise soreness dissipates and we are no longer sore afterwards. Stiff and/or fatigued, sure, but typically not sore.

Especially during the off-season, I would encourage all of us to do things that are typically not our primary sport. For example, some folks at Hammer like to cross-country ski in the winter and give the bike a rest. Great! I've been doing a TON of hike/runs up in the mountains since bike racing season came to a close. Some runners like to get in the pool. Most athletes put a bigger focus on lifting weights. And so on.

The beauty is that it's almost like cheating. The diversion makes the workout not feel like a workout. I hit the mountains with zeal, challenging myself to go higher, faster, farther. There's even an unofficial record book for a TT up Mount Sanitas in Boulder, to help keep things motivating in the off-season. It's all good, because as long as the heart is pumping and the muscles are working, gains in general fitness are made. And these gains translate nicely to our primary sports once it's again time to focus on them.

But, there is a downside potentially, as well. Given the newness of the fresh approach, it's very easy to get in too deep. We start to form attachments to these new and exciting workouts, so (in my case) skipping a hike/run to ride the bike isn't attractive. I'd rather slap on the trail runners and the CamelBak and GO! Just because we aren't doing our primary sport (regularly or at all), and just because we aren't keeping track of how much time we spend "going anaerobic" doesn't mean we are immune to the affects of overtraining. Even though the prime motivation of the off-season should be to have fun, that fun can easily turn into drudgery if we don't check in on ourselves from time-to-time.

I completed a 2.5-hour hike/run yesterday and felt great during it. It culminated a 12-hour training week, more than half of that hoofing it on my feet. For a guy who no longer regularly runs, logging nearly 7 hours of it is a big deal. So, I wake up this morning and I have some aches and soreness that I don't typically have the day after one of these long forays into the mountains. Instead of pressing ahead with my regularly scheduled workout, I realized I've had the pedal to the metal a bit too long and it's time to ease off and lick some wounds. I spun easy on the bike for an hour and called it good.

This week wasn't planned as a recovery week but it has now become one. Which is fine. That's part of the training process -- knowing when the body is sending you signals and alerts that all may not be well. The risks of injury and overtraining do not disappear simply because we aren't in the heart of the racing season.

So, as you progress through this off-season, first and foremost have fun. If you don't typically do something different for fitness, give it a try. It's like a whole new world. Progress comes quickly, the body adapts. It's exciting! But, be careful that sense of excitement doesn't override your ability to recognize the signs that easing off the throttle is in order. Your body will thank you for taking it easy for a few days or a week, before you re-focus and get back at it.

Happy Training,
Nate Llerandi
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:44 am

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